Saturday, February 16, 2013

Confessions of a Sinner turned Saint - part 1

Now as He [Jesus] was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Do not defraud,' 'Honor your father and your mother.' " And he answered and said to Him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth." Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me."
- Mark 10:17-21 (NKJV)

This is my spiritual testimony. When asked to write a paragraph or so about it in times past I would often have a bit of a hard time writing it… it wasn’t very exciting, and I to be honest, I wasn’t even completely confident of when and where I actually became a Christian. That is, until recently.

I am very blessed to have grown up in a strong Christian family where my Dad put priority on going to Sunday School, church Sunday morning and evening as well as different church activities and prayer meeting during the week. I grew up hearing the Bible read by my parents and teachers and pastors at church. I loved knowing things, and had a knack for remembering details so it was no surprise that I was the girl who always knew all the answers in Sunday School; my classmates even called me “the walking Bible”. One Sunday when I was 8, my Sunday School teacher was talking about something in relation to the Gospel and I asked my parents on the way home about being saved. At home my parents shared something like the Romans Road with me and I prayed and “asked Jesus into my heart”. I was saved… right? I believed Jesus died for my sin. I knew I wasn’t perfect and certainly didn’t want to go to hell; I knew I needed Jesus to save me. So I saw no reason why I shouldn’t call myself a Christian and be assured that I was on my way to heaven.

“Christ is willing to receive any sinners. But he will not receive them if they will stick to their sins.”    – J.C. Ryle

When I was 11 I asked to be baptized. It was of my own accord; I knew it was commanded to those who believed in Jesus and wanted to be obedient. I took a baptism/membership class, but as I looked back years later I realized I didn’t really understand what baptism really symbolized. To me, it was just something you were supposed to do if you were a Christian. Just like “go to church” and “read your Bible” and “obey your parents”. There was no real spiritual significance. Nonetheless, I was baptized. My pastor had to lift me up a bit so the congregation could see me and I testified that I believed in Jesus and wanted to obey Him. Surely, that was evidence that I was saved… right?

“There is no Christianity without death” – Martin Lloyd-Jones

Fast forward 2 years. I was 13, and sometime in January or February I went with my youth group on a retreat at a Christian camp. I have no recollection of who the speaker was or anything else that happened that weekend, but I do remember one thing: God got a hold of my life. My eyes were opened to the truth that I really had no goodness in me, that I was a sinner and deserved eternal hell forever. I realized that nothing I did could make God more pleased with me, but also beheld for the first time the glory and beauty of Christ. I understood what He had really done for me – He gave His life so I could live. He gave His life so that I could be free from the tyranny of sin. He gave His life so that I could be HIS. And if I was His, than I ought to do nothing less than live for Him. He was worthy of my whole life! That weekend I “re-dedicated” my life, to the One who was not just my Savior, but my Lord. I laid down my life that day and committed myself to His purposes and plans.

“The new life seizes upon the believing man’s nature and sets about its benign conquest, a conquest that is not complete until the invading life has taken full possession and a new creature has emerged. And this is an act of God without human aid, for it is a moral miracle and a spiritual resurrection.”  – A.W. Tozer

The past few years I’ve wrestled with the question of whether I was really saved at 8 or if it was when I was 13. Or maybe it was somewhere in between? I was convinced in my mind, but the Holy Spirit still continued to whisper to my heart that until one gives their life to Christ in full surrender and obedience they aren’t really His. Then recently I came across a journal/diary from the year I was 13 and as I looked at the entries before this event it was all along the lines of “Dear Diary… I did such and such… I want my friends to like me… I like this boy…” In other words, me, myself and I. But the entries following this event were immediately and strikingly different. They read something like this: “Dear God, thank you for a good day… please help me to honor You and obey mom and dad… Please help me to tell my friend about Jesus… I’m struggling with liking this boy, but I know I need to focus on loving You first…” Now, I sincerely believed Jesus was Savior when I was 8, but when I read these entry’s a few weeks ago I finally knew for sure… what happened when I was 13 was not “re-dedication”, that was salvation. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor 5:17) Jesus said the following:

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also.
John 12:24-26 (NKJV)

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it,
and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
Matt 10:37-39 (NKJV)

The day I was saved, was the day I heard my Shepherd’s call to follow Him, and I did, leaving everything behind. I was His, and He was mine. My life was changed in a moment, but it would continue to change to be more and more like His. My practical sanctification had begun.

 “O God, I accept Thy demands. I am Thine and all that I have. Absolute surrender is what my soul yields to Thee by Divine grace.”
– Andrew Murray

How about you?

Let me ask you, when did God change you? Not, ‘when did you ask Jesus into your heart’, or ‘when did you believe in Jesus’ or ‘when were you baptized,’ and not even ‘when were you saved,’ but really, when did God change you?

If at some point you believed in Jesus as a savior from sin and hell, but yet you didn’t experience a change in your life – a new perspective, a new way of thinking, a desire for the Word of God – than your faith is empty and you are still in your sins.

Jesus didn’t just die for your sins He died to change your life!

Has God changed you? 
To know more about what the Gospel is:

*This is Part 1 of a series I wrote on my spiritual journey - for the following posts see click the label "Personal Testimony" below to the right. Or go here: